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Google Wins Rights to Aussie Algorithm 211

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the new-tool-for-the-belt dept.
rcbutcher writes to tell us the Sydney Morning Herald is reporting that Google has just acquired the rights to a brand new text search algorithm invented by a University of NSW student. From the article: "Orion works as an add-on to existing search engines to improve the relevance of search and won praise from Microsoft founder Bill Gates last year. [...] Orion finds pages where the content is about a topic strongly related to the key word. It then returns a section of the page, and lists other topics related to the key word so the user can pick the most relevant."
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Google Wins Rights to Aussie Algorithm

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  • Something like this could be used to check if the content of first posts is related to the story or not. ;-P
    • Why stop at first topic? It could be used to -gasp- prevent dupes!

      Example:

      Topic: Bill Gates plans to rule world.

      Warning: Your topic has been posted 82 times. Do you wish to post anyhow?

      Yes No

      Eh, okay, maybe it wouldn't work after all.

  • by n8k99 (888757) on Monday April 10, 2006 @12:51AM (#15097474) Homepage Journal
    Google just bought your script before Microsoft could do more than praise it; I would suggest you duck before the chair hits the fan.
  • by d2_m_viant (811261) on Monday April 10, 2006 @12:53AM (#15097480)
    The algorithm is a problem-solving computational procedure and is the building block for all search engines like those operated by Google and Yahoo.

    No it's not. Otherwise they would've implemented it already. How can something be a building block if the thing they're referring to isn't built on it?

    Orion finds pages where the content is about a topic strongly related to the key word.

    Duh. Welcome to Google in the 1990's.

    The results to the query are displayed immediately in the form of expanded text extracts, giving the searcher the relevant information without having to go to the website - although there is still that option.

    What was stopping Google from creating something like this before? Is it just me or is this being hyped just a bit?

    ...won praise from Microsoft founder Bill Gates last year.

    That it's, enough said. Hope you got a receipt for that Google.
    • The Sydney Morning Herald struggles with computer-related articles. The range of topics they cover is interesting. Sometimes they even have articles about Linux kernel news. Their accuracy usually isn't very good, though. I've reported a couple of errors to them in the past month or so. In one article, they got Electronic Frontiers Australia mixed up with Electronic Frontier Foundation, but still used the acronym for the other organisation.

      I'm curious about whether these inaccuracies are limited to science/
    • The algorithm is a problem-solving computational procedure and is the building block for all search engines like those operated by Google and Yahoo.

      No it's not. Otherwise they would've implemented it already. How can something be a building block if the thing they're referring to isn't built on it?


      I read that as An algorithm and treated it as a definition of algorithm for their less-attuned audience.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 10, 2006 @03:31AM (#15097823)
      How dare you try to pull the rug out from another of our cause célèbres? See, Google is a big, famous, mostly American company, and they've bought an Australian product! That makes all Aussies famous and important and sopheeeeesteeecated! No, really, it does. Honestly. So stop trying to ruin this for us you ungrateful fuckwit, and keep saying nice things about the United States of Australia, because our egos need it.

      Now watch this post get modded straight to hell by my infuriated countrymen.
    • How can something be a building block if the thing they're referring to isn't built on it?

      There are many kinds of building block, young one.

    • Geeks reading tech news stories from news outlets like the Sydney Morning Herald is a little like two people trying to pass messages verbally using a monkey as a go-between.
  • Hello World! (Score:1, Offtopic)

    by Neo-Rio-101 (700494)
    Man, all that time wasted writing simple "hello world" programs and number guessing games, and I could have been doing something like this.

    *gives himself an uppercut*
  • by dfn_deux (535506) * <datsun510&gmail,com> on Monday April 10, 2006 @01:11AM (#15097519) Homepage
    Since when are "wins" and "buys" interchangable verbs?
  • Very fishy (Score:5, Informative)

    by smallpaul (65919) <paul@@@prescod...net> on Monday April 10, 2006 @01:13AM (#15097526)
    First, it is funny how various countries are putting a nationalistic spin on it. Israeli newspapers are focusing on the fact that the inventor is an Israeli. Australian newspapers are focusing on the fact that he is Australian. Only the national newspapers are spinning this as "revolutionary technology."

    Second, the description sounds alot like what Google and others do already.

    Third, buying a single algorithm is not generally such a big deal. Maybe it is reasonably valuable. Maybe so valuable that Google paid ten million dollars for it. In the big scheme of things, that's chump change for them and for their competitors.

    The whole thing sounds overhyped to me.
  • WOW (Score:3, Funny)

    by caffeinemessiah (918089) on Monday April 10, 2006 @01:19AM (#15097546) Journal
    I know English majors aren't the most technologically gifted, but COME ON!!:

    The algorithm, or search engine tool, is called Orion.

    Way to reduce CS to the web. And that was possibly the most UN-enlightening article I've EVER read. Does anyone have a link to something with more meat??

    • Re:WOW (Score:3, Funny)

      by Columcille (88542)
      Does anyone have a link to something with more meat??
      I hope this helps: Another article [wikipedia.org].
    • I know English majors aren't the most technologically gifted, but COME ON!!:

      I'm guessing that English majors are generally more technically adept than engineering majors are grammatically adept. You needn't judge a whole discipline based on this article. It's also good to remember that there is no getting around the fact that when writing for a general audience the material is going to suffer some loss of precision as it is translated. This article probably wasn't the best candidate for a posting to Sl

    • Re:WOW (Score:3, Funny)

      by Jearil (154455)
      Sure! Here you go [redmeat.com].
  • by Xiroth (917768) on Monday April 10, 2006 @01:28AM (#15097567)
    From TFA:
    While Mr Allon is the key person behind Orion, the university retains ownership of the intellectual property as it was developed within the university's research facilities.

    Bleh, sometimes I think I shouldn't leave my house for fear of coming up with an idea where someone else can lay claim to it. It could be that he needed the computational resources of the university to develop the algorithm, but it's easily imaginable that the university could be laying claim to it when he was working without any real assistance.

    I know that there are a number of issues around this (where do you draw the line?), but still - in general writing algorithms is a creative act, so they should belong to the creator(s), if it is even possible to own an algorithm.

    • This is pretty standard for universities. And they are pretty good at making sure the people who did the actual work get something out of it too.
      • by Anonymous Coward
        This is pretty standard for universities.

        This part is true.

        And they are pretty good at making sure the people who did the actual work get something out of it too.

        Unfortunately, this part is only true in some locations and some departments. Specific terms for this are rarely written into contracts, and it is usually up to the discretion of a dean or other official. This is unfortunate, because it keeps a lot of bright people out of academia.

        It's rather frustrating for researchers to do their work at lower-
    • by zoomba (227393)
      These rules vary from school to school. At Penn State, as an undergrad, I am almost 100% sure that if you come up with something, even if you use school resources to develop and prototype it, it's still yours.

      If you're a grad student though, it belongs to them.

      If you work for the University while an undergrad, the lines get murky.
    • Rather common, for example Stanford University owns the rights to the google search technology (or parts of it) since it was developed while the founders were students there.
  • Holy Hypes, Batman! (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Quixote (154172) * on Monday April 10, 2006 @01:37AM (#15097584) Homepage Journal
    Where are the peer-reviewed publications by Allon? Where are the journal articles? Where are the papers in SIGIR, ICML, KDD, etc.?

    Do a Google Scholar [google.com] search for publications in CS/EE, and you get... nothing.

    His own web page is bare, with no details.

    A Science Daily [sciencedaily.com] article from September 2005 (yeah, over 6 months ago) mentions this "algorithm", but scan details.

    I highly doubt the novelty/effectiveness of this "algorithm" if it has been patented before being published in a peer-reviewed journal.

  • Business as usual (Score:4, Insightful)

    by donutello (88309) on Monday April 10, 2006 @01:39AM (#15097593) Homepage
    Yet again. Micro$oft shows they can't innovate and only buy others innovation with their monopolistically acquired money.

    Oh, wait...
  • by baywulf (214371) on Monday April 10, 2006 @01:43AM (#15097602)
    I read a book on the Google story a while back. What I remember is that when they came up with the algorithm, they worked with Stanford to pitch the algorithm to Altavista, Yahoo, etc. They wanted about $1 million for it but nobody wanted it. The Google guys just wanted money so they could scale up their experiment with more computers and storage but none of the big guys could see any money in search engines. Then at the prodding of the Stanford folks, they found a few angel investors and build up their company and the rest is history. So I guess the Google guys don't want to miss any opporunity and probably have a soft spot for these college students for when they were in the same place.
    • So I guess the Google guys don't want to miss any opporunity and probably have a soft spot for these college students for when they were in the same place.

      Or even if you just want to be cynical about it, they might just be trying to keep legitimate competition from springing up, just like they did. Good job either way...

      --
      Was it the sheep climbing onto the altar, or the cattle lowing to be slain,
      or the Son of God hanging dead and bloodied on a cross that told me this was a world condemned, but loved and bou
    • ... at least, not when they have terabytes of data to search through. While Boyer-Moore is an asymptotically optimal algorithm for non-indexed string matching, Google (and everybody else who wants to perform multiple searches against the same data set) uses indexed matching algorithms.

      With indexed matching algorithms, you can search for a string of length M within a string of length N in M + log(N) steps -- far faster than B-M's M + N/M steps -- and you can even search for matches with mismatches (e.g., lo
  • by McFadden (809368) on Monday April 10, 2006 @02:43AM (#15097732)
    I would imagine there must be something smart or unique about this algorithm, or given the number of brains Google employ would have implemented it themselves rather than buying the guy out.

    I like his initiative though. I wonder if he looked around at the current marketplace and thought "hmmm... so I gotta few years to research something... Google's looking pretty hot right now... why not build something I can sell them the end of it?". If he did, he's smarter than the average bear.

    Actually I did a similar thing during my undergraduate degree in the early-mid 90s. I designed a very early back-end/database for a generic web-based online store. About 2 weeks into my project I got a call from a big record company (who apparently had heard about my work) and they bought it, despite it being mainly on paper at that point. I won't say who it was, I ended up working for them for a short time after I graduated, and as far as I'm aware, their site still uses the core of my code.

    • In university I was getting drunk nightly and adding a cool 23kg (~50 lbs) to my frame through a rigid diet of pizza-shop-across-the-street, taco-bell-on-campus, the-munchies and 20-cent-wing-nights.

      It almost makes me feel like I wasted those years of my life. I said almost...
  • by Jugalator (259273) on Monday April 10, 2006 @02:54AM (#15097755) Journal
    I thought it was about Google taking his rights from something in court due to the "winning", but what they did was acquiring the rights, and he even works on Google now:
    Mr Andrew Stead, the business development manager at UNSW's NewSouth Innovations agency confirmed that Mr Allon left Australia six weeks ago and was now working at Google's headquarters at Mountain View, California.

    Mr Stead said the move was not a secondment; Mr Allon's move was permanent.

    Since it sounds like he was a student immediately before, it sounds like a step up in his career, and the only possibly evil thing I ended up seeing here was that Google is taking on a tech with Microsoft praise. ;-)
  • by tgv (254536) on Monday April 10, 2006 @03:06AM (#15097776) Journal
    The guy must have invented something absolutely bloody amazing. I mean, it's not like similar technology hasn't been around for ages now (check contributions to the TREC (http://trec.nist.gov/ [nist.gov]) conferences. Some of the submissions reach a level of sophistication Google can only dream of. And the algorithms are published.

    So, what's up with this "Orion" thing? What insanely great insight into language processing can a CS student have that whole teams of experts still didn't get?
  • by ill dillettante (658149) on Monday April 10, 2006 @09:42AM (#15098586) Homepage
    I don't have access to the patent applications as they were only filed late last year, but the the two relevant patents are:

    Australian Application Number 2005906358
    Applicant(s) Newsouth Innovations Pty Ltd
    Inventor(s) Allon, Ori
    Martin, Eric
    Title A method and a system for facilitating ranking of textual information
    Status Filed
    Filing Date 16 November 2005
    Date of Patent 16 November 2005

    Patent Application Type Provisional
    Australian Application Number 2005905853
    Applicant(s) Newsouth Innovations Pty Ltd
    Inventor(s) Allon, Ori
    Martin, Eric
    Title Methods and systems for facilitating ranking of an advertisement
    Status Filed
    Filing Date 20 October 2005
    Date of Patent 20 October 2005

    This makes me suspect that there is more to this story the SMH is reporting!
  • The latest high-tech action thriller from Robert Ludlum, The Australian Algorithm, is sure to delight readers with its well-researched look into the depths of the Internet search business, and the egos and conflicts that drive it. Recommended.

    - ScrewMaster's Books in Review



    Hello? Mr. Ludlum? Uh ... Yes I did say ... no, I ... look, it was a JOKE, okay? A JOKE!
  • Wouldn't it be simpler and more reliable to just lookup the keyword in a thesaurus?
  • for a while. The idea of sifting through search results to find related topics has been done by at least a few companies (including mine), and these products predate this tech (which was officially anounced in Sep. 2005) so I don't think Google will be able to defend a US Patent on this.

    If you want a demo of a product (mine, natch) that's been around in one from or another since 2004, check out Q-Phrase's ConceptQ Pro [q-phrase.com] product. A free version which does just web search will be coming soon.

    Here's a screensh [q-phrase.com]
  • by ashayh (636057)
    A Not Safe for Work University... I'd like to join that!

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